The Republican Party has long been a comfortable home for anti-Europeanism, from the "America First" opponents of U.S. participation in World War II to the "let them eat Freedom Fries" movement responsible for renaming French fries in congressional cafeterias during the lead-up to the Iraq War in 2003.
But as far-right political parties gain power and prominence on the Continent, many members of the Grand Old Party are cozying up to European politicos with unprecedented enthusiasm—well, nearly unprecedented.
Among the most fawning of the newly Europositive wing of the Republican party: Rep. Steve King (R-IA), a nativist hawk from the heartland with a long and unapologetic history of making incendiary statements regarding immigrants, Islam, and racial "sub-groups." On Sunday, however, King surprised even his sharpest critics by tweeting what amounts to an endorsement of Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders, founder and leader of the right-wing Party for Freedom who is days away from his potential election as prime minister of the Netherlands.
"Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny," King tweeted. "We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies."
King's tweet linked to a tweet from “Voice of Europe,” a Twitter account which describes itself as anti-European Union, with a cartoon version of Wilders depicted as poking his finger in a leaking dike holding back the toxic floodwaters of Islam.
Even for King, whose eight terms in Congress have been studded with numerous controversial statements on race and "civilization," the apparent endorsement of Wilders is remarkable. Wilders, whose party currently leads numerous polls in the Dutch general election to be held on Wednesday, has built his political career on virulent anti-Islamic statements and policies that make even the most aggressive statements of President Donald Trump—of whom Wilders is an avid fan—seem moderate.
Over the years, Wilders has called for banning the Quran in the Netherlands, proposed a €1,000 "Head-Rag Tax" on Muslim women who wear hijabs in public, and called for a moratorium on the founding of new mosques in his 2006 political manifesto Klare Wijn ("Clear Wine").
Inquiries to King's congressional office on Sunday regarding the Iowa congressman's stance on these and other statements by Wilders went unanswered.
King's embrace of Wilders is the latest indicator of a newfound chumminess with the European far-right and its political leaders. King has indicated support for, among others, France's Marine Le Pen, Austria's Norbert Hofer, and Germany's Frauke Petry, each of whom espouses similar views on immigration, Islam, and cultural "purity"—views that King himself as frequently expressed stateside.
During the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last year, King declared during a discussion about the Republican Party's difficulties in winning over non-white voters that whites had contributed more to civilization than other "sub-groups," particularly in the United States, Western Europe and "every place where the footprint of Christianity settled the world."
Three years ago, King dismissed immigrant children who hoped to achieve legal status in the United States a drug-smuggling criminals. “For everyone who’s a valedictorian, there’s another hundred out there," king said. "They weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”
During a debate on then-proposed reform of America's immigration system, King even brought a replica of a proposed border fence onto the floor of the House of Representatives, complete with wire that, he said, would be charged with an electrical current.
"We do that with livestock all the time," King said.